At some point everybody has been sat round with their mates, chatting, hanging out, not really doing anything of note but having such great “banter” that you think “this would make a great television show.” No actual plot to this tv show or development of characters, no real plan at all, just that what you and your friends are talking about and the jokes you are coming up with are so funny that everybody would enjoy it. I know I have. I’ve been sat with my friends and we’ve been out-doing each other’s ridiculous comments with much more ridiculous comments and I’ve been sat thinking that together we are the funniest people on earth. The truth is, we aren’t. The truth is that you’d need that insight into our sense of humour and friendship to probably appreciate the jokes for the same reason I find them funny and to someone on the outside, it’s probably just rubbish conversation ultimately, and usually, fuelled by drink.
This brings me to Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee. Le Donk is played by Paddy Considine and filmed in a mockumentary style by Shane Meadows. These two are really good friends and within the film business they are brilliant. Paddy Considine has had some fantastic roles in films such as Submarine and the television mini-series Red Riding. He was also in another Shane Meadows directed film called Dead Man’s Shoes, which I had never even heard of until two of my best mates introduced me to the film and I discovered a brilliant movie.
Shane Meadows is producing the consistently brilliant This is England series, something he also wrote, so I went into this film thinking that these two men, who I know have produced brilliant pieces in film already, should collaborate again to make something worth a watch. Plus it’s a mockumentary, something that has worked superbly before if handled correctly. In a comedy fashion, This is Spinal Tap is probably one of best ever mockumentaries and close to that is the television show The Office, created by Ricky Gervais. A mockumentary gives you a great opportunity to really get to know a character, raw, unabridged but being created on the spot. It can give you a chance for uncomfortable, off-the-cuff humour as well as deep, personal and dramatic moments that are made much more so because they are caught on camera. All things Ricky Gervais caught perfectly with The Office.
Unfortunately, Considine and Meadows don’t seem to use the mockumentary format to its full potential. They try for humour throughout, with Le Donk being a lazy but disillusioned character who is quite obnoxious at points throughout the film but he’s just not funny enough. Nothing he does is so obnoxious that we have a “says what he thinks” type character or so stupid that we have a “David Brent buffoon.” If anything, Le Donk is too ordinary and too boring.
There are moments of drama but you don’t care enough about Le Donk for them to resonate. Meadows doesn’t build up the character enough or take us on a journey with Le Donk so when the “climax” of the film does occur we aren’t with him, either pleased or upset depending on your perspective. Instead, you just cruise along with the character, watching him be obnoxious, stupid or just dull with everyone he meets.
The saving grace of the film is Scor-zay-zee. He is a white rapper who actually has some decent ability. When he manages to get “heard” on the Arctic Monkeys stage at a festival, you are pleased for him because he is a likable, well-thought out character. He isn’t the most intelligent person, he is clearly being taken advantage of by Le Donk but is also honest, caring and when he does get his moment at the end of the film, you really do feel for him, the way you are probably supposed to feel for Le Donk.
The idea was clearly thought up by Considine and Meadows as a “it’s really funny when you play Le Donk, let’s make a film of him.” The problem is, what Considine may have said or done when he was “playing” Le Donk to his mates hasn’t translated to the screen effectively, the same way I’m sure the brilliant banter between me and my mates wouldn’t make a very good film either.
Overall, a disappointment considering Meadows and Considine have produced brilliant films before, both separately and together. What could have been a great idea, brilliantly executed, is more a wasted opportunity. If anything, they should have put Scor-zay-zee at the forefront and had Le Donk as a supporting character. Definitely try to find Dead Man’s Shoes if you haven’t already seen it though, as it is brilliant.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)